Arthur sat at his computer. He had, after much fidgeting and procrastination, successfully logged on to his Twitter account. There were more than a few comments directed to him, mostly from students who thought the first day of class was better than most.
It seemed rude not to respond, so he typed, “Thanks, see you Friday morning,” or some variation to most of the students. Now, faced with a blank 140 character canvas, he wanted to send out a real tweet. What to write?
It wasn’t just a question of tweeting, it was THE question that had been plaguing him for over a decade. Damn, why is this so hard, 140 characters does not a novel make! He decided to go with “What is the sexiest root vegetable? Enquiring minds want to know.”
It took five minutes before he hit the send button.
That done, he sat and waited. He didn’t know for what, but expected something to happen. The silence spoke only of loneliness. A few tweets were added to the stream, one which had a snarky political comment that made him chuckle. He didn’t respond.
Another tweet had a hashtag which read #ScottishLust and there was a link. One didn’t need to be a social media guru to know it was probably a bad idea to click on the link. It was a picture of a Scottish Terrier getting a chin scratch.
A few more tweets appeared in rapid succession and they were between two students talking about football. Arthur wanted to jump in, but it felt like he was intruding. He loved football, and though he wasn’t enough of a sports junkie to hang with the most rabid fans, it was fun to discuss. He wrote down on his yellow pad, “Is it okay to jump into a conversation?”
He would ask Wen or Kurt, later.
The next tweet had a link to an old blog post on a site called Spin Sucks. Arthur had to agree that Spin did, as a matter of fact, suck. He clicked on the post and began to read. It had a quote in the beginning that Arthur liked, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, from Richelieu. Arthur was hooked.
He read on, “If this is true, and I believe it is, then the combination of the keyboard (21st century pen) when combined with tweeting, would kick Edward’s pen’s ass.
Sure there will be skeptics. I get that. There is a sport, which is known by some, but perfected by few. I speak, of course, of #fakehashtaggery. It is usually played on a platform such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, though one could certainly use Twitter. Does anybody use Twitter for tweeting anymore? I digress.”
Arthur didn’t understand the bit about anyone using Twitter for tweeting. He wrote it down as another question and went back to the post. He finished reading and then called Wen. There was an excitement deep in his funny bone and he just had to share.
“Hello Dr. Byrne, how is it going?”
“I’m doing some research and I’m reading a blog post on Spin Sucks.”
“You know Spin Sucks?”
“Somebody tweeted a link.”
“I love that site.”
“Well, have you read the post on Fake Hashtaggery?”
“I don’t think so.”
“It is older, from…just a second…March 29, 2011.”
“I’ll check it out.”
“I’ve got it up, let me read this to you.”
“The sport of #fakehashtaggery dates back thousands of years to 2009.
“To those readers who have been using Twitter for a while, I don’t need to explain that the pound sign is also called a hashtag. To those who haven’t been using twitter until recently, please stop reading, go sit in the corner, and think about what you have done. Oh don’t try to play dumb. I know you mocked Twitter relentlessly, until you started to see tweets on the CNN crawler. Then all of a sudden, it was okay. Well, some of us have been here for years. We have been airing our grievances, 140 characters at a time, all to build a world where people can search for loved ones in a disaster or overthrow a dictator. You’re welcome.
“This brings me back to the most exciting sport since Bulgarian Ratapult. #FakeHashTaggery is played by one or thousands. It often starts when a twelve year old girl tweets something like “Justin Bieber is the greatest musician EVER.”
“The first salvo would go something like this, “@Sally021999 No he isn’t. He sounds like a cat producing a pile of sick. #BieberIsAMonkeyFacedBoy”
“The little biebette might respond, but this only makes it worse. “@Sally021999 His lyrics are trite. Your parents don’t love you. #BieberHairSucks”
“If she isn’t crying by now, then it is hard to say which way it will go. She will either log-off of Twitter or, and this is where #fakehashtaggery can become dangerous, she might rally several thousand screeching preteens to her cause. This can quickly turn into millions of people, all berating ones middle aged baldness and lack of fashion sense. This is not a game for the faint of heart.
“Few people know that Mubarak once tweeted that “David Hasselhoff was overrated and that Baywatch sucked.” Within minutes, a gang of ruthless German tweeple was using hashtags to imply an improper relationship between the President and a farm animal in a bikini. Twenty minutes later he stepped down and he hasn’t been seen tweeting since.
“Now don’t get me wrong, hashtags are very useful. I like to set up a search using #reading or #writing, to find kindred spirits. Hashtags, when used properly, are very handy for group discussions. They make Twitter fun, can help with promoting, and as I have said, even aid in emergencies. I don’t mock the hashtag itself. But there are days when I am feeling a little #snarky that a round or two of #fakehashtaggery really lifts my spirits.”
Wen was laughing when Arthur got to the end and said, “That is funny.”
“It has gotten me thinking about all the crap I said during my first day rant.”
“You were great.”
“I was making up stuff as I went along, but maybe some of it was a good idea?”
“I thought all of it was…”
“Okay, tamper down the unbridled enthusiasm for a moment and stay with me. Had we planned on doing anything with blogging?”
“Yes, it’s in the syllabus, haven’t you read it?”
“You are allowed one stupid question per day and that was it. I mean, in the few days we’ve known each other, what led you to believe I might actually read the syllabus.”
“Momentary bout of optimism?”
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to brow beat that sunny disposition out of you by mid-term. Now, how about we require everyone to start a blog. Are they expensive?”
“No, there are free ones like blogger.”
Arthur wrote down blogger. “Can anyone blog on blogger?”
“Excellent. Is it hard to set up?”
“It would take me about five minutes.”
“How long would it take me?”
“Maybe somewhere between six minutes and ‘I quit, this is stupid, let’s go to the bar.'”
“Well done, Lou, you HAVE been paying attention. That had an edge to it. Give yourself a high five, later.”
“Okay,” she said, with light giggle.
“I’m going to go and try to figure out how to set up a free blog. If it is hard, I’m blaming you.”
“Good luck Dr. Byrne.”
Arthur bravely typed “blogger” into Google. It would take him ten minutes to set up and then he realized the flaw in his plan, blogging is writing, even if it is the most lowly form.